The current setup, with a scary popup notice and, really, a very hefty fee, is really going overboard if it's just meant to "get people used" to an event which will happen many years from now. The setup in the previous client, with an optional fee input box and a note about priority below it, was very good. I really liked that, it reflected well on the currency
I hope to see that return...
By the way, even reducing it to .0001 is something of a bandaid fix. A key virtue of bitcoins is the ability to do micro-transactions. Personally, and I think I speak for many other webmasters, I'm quite willing to "risk it" a bit and accept micro-payments with low priority and it takes awhile for confirmations to come in. People could cheat me, in theory (it would be a lot of work, to save pennies...) but statistically most customers won't do that.
Other P2P networks like bittorrent do not have anything like transaction fees.
Finally, as for spamming, I propose that instead of mandatory fees, we simply make the client refuse to send out more than X transactions per minute.
Thanks for all the hard work, BTW, I realized I was coming across as rather critical, I do appreciate all the effort you guys are doing for bitcoin. I wish I could contribute myself but I only program in C.